Barcelona defeat Villareal 6-2 on aggregate; to face Athletic Bilbao in Copa del Rey final
Madrid, March 5 (IANS) Athletic Club Bilbao will play FC Barcelona in the King's Cup final for the third time in six years as both sides won their respective semi-final return legs. Barcelona won 3-1 in Villarreal to claim a 6-2 aggregate win while Athletic defeated Espanyol 2-0 in Barcelona to make it through on Wednesday night, reports Xinhua.
Taking a 3-1 lead from the first leg to the El Madrigal Stadium, Barcelona looked to have sewn up the tie when Neymar put them ahead after just two minutes as he chipped a Lionel Messi pass over Sergio Asenjo in the Villarreal goal.
Neymar wasted a chance on the break shortly before halftime when he opted to shoot rather than pass to the unmarked Messi and that was punished after 40 minutes when former Barcelona midfielder Jonathan dos Santos scored unmarked at the far post.
Barcelona were forced to change midfielder Sergio Busquets when he twisted his right ankle after being accidentally caught by Villarreal midfielder Pina. Although Pina may have been unlucky to have caught Busquets with that challenge, he could have no complaints after he was sent off for a terrible challenge on Neymar with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Luis Suarez assured Barcelona's place in the final when he rounded Asenjo to score with just over 15 minutes remaining before Neymar's second goal made it 3-1 on the night and 6-2 on aggregate, three minutes from the end.
It will be Barca's fourth Cup final appearance in the last six seasons.
Espanyol were favourites after a 1-1 draw in Bilbao a fortnight ago, but their away goal was cancelled out by Aritz Aduriz, who netted a fine solo goal and three minutes before the break, Xabi Etxeita's header made it 2-0 to Athletic, leaving Espanyol needing to score three times to qualify.
Felipe Caicedo saw a shot rebound off the post after coming on as a second-half substitute, but that was as far as Espanyol came against a rival who showed their big-game experience.